Ahead of the release of their new album ‘Stains on Silence’, set for release on June 15th via Tough Love Records, Belfast’s Girls Names have shared a second glimpse of the record, with the album’s stirring closing track, ‘Karoline’.
Following the haunting melancholy of first single “25”, “Karoline” sees some sun breaking through the clouds, balancing introspective, searching lyrics with a sense of swelling optimism to sparkling effect.
Speaking about the track, the band’s Cathal Cully says: “Karoline is a fictional character who represents whatever you put on a pedestal and chase after, long for or get eaten up with memory and nostalgia over. In a way the whole record is Karoline. I think there’s an element of getting older and life getting heavier; something is always holding you back, holding you down. The last line of the track and subsequently the record, “Eating out the scum in Western Man” was the working title of the LP for about a year and a half. A sobering end.”
It stands to reason that many vital albums come critically close to never being made. The eight-track upshot of doubt, upheaval, and financial strain, ‘Stains on Silence’ by Girls Names is one such release.
Following 2015’s blitzing ‘Arms Around a Vision’, and the parting of drummer Gib Cassidy just over a year later, the Belfast band suddenly found themselves facing down a looming void. “There was a finished – and then aborted – mix of the album, which was shelved for six months,” reveals Girls Names frontman, Cathal Cully. “We then took a break from all music and went back to full-time work. We chilled out from the stress of rushing the record and not being happy with it, as well as being skint with no impending touring on the cards and constantly having to worry about rent.”
The stumbling blocks that proved a strain became the album’s defining breakthrough. Recorded in various locations including Belfast’s Start Together Studio with Ben McAuley, Cully’s home and the band’s practice space, spontaneous creation, cut-up techniques and self-editing took centre-stage for the first time. “We started tearing the material apart and rebuilding, re-editing and re-recording different parts in my home in early Autumn last year,” says Cully. “When we got them to a place we were pleased with we went back into Start Together Studio with Ben McAuley to finalise the mixes to what they are now.”
Where ‘AAAV’ proved a brazen statement of intent, ‘Stains on Silence’ bounds forth as its feature-length comedown. What could have seen the band buckle became an opportunity for approaching things tabula rasa. During its two-year transmutation, Cully, bassist Claire Miskimmin, and guitarist Philip Quinn had a single aim for their fourth album: to make an old-fashioned record clocking in around 30 to 35 minutes in length that made the listener reach straight for repeat. From the Bang Bang bar-summoning swoon of opener ’25’ and the submerged disco doom of ‘Haus Proud’ to the rapt, dub-leaning ‘Fragments of a Portrait’, Girls Names have excelled in their goal by forging an LP of synchronous nuance and defiance.
Marked by the presence of drum machines and programming throughout, these eight masterfully-woven tales are once again commandeered by founder Cully, whose words, understated yet defiant, mine purpose and meaning from the mire (“I want to bathe again, I want to swim again / In a pool of twisting bodies, blackened gold.” — ‘25’). But while ‘Stains on Silence’ came critically close to never being made, having lived with it, reconfigured it, and guided its metamorphosis from flickers of inspiration and half-formed schemes, it’s both a statement of pure perseverance and a head-on confrontation with ambivalence that couldn’t be more assured.
‘Stains on Silence’ will be released on June 15th via Tough Love records and is available to pre-order.
Girls Names live dates:
21st – Across the Line, Belfast
15th – Blackbox, Belfast
19th – Moth Club, London
20th – Oporto, Leeds
21st – Old Hairdressers, Glasgow
22nd – Night People, Manchester
23rd – Whelans, Dublin
9-12th – Ypsigrock, Sicily